In a partnership to be announced Monday, LG Electronics will start selling high-definition TV sets that stream Netflix videos directly from the Internet, without an additional device. The deal marks the first time Netflix's streaming service will be embedded in a television.
Netflix, still best known for its online DVD rental service, offers about 12,000 movies and TV shows for instant streaming over the Internet, for no additional cost to subscribers who pay at least $9 per month for a DVD rental plan.
Those streamed movies can be watched on a computer, or sent to a TV through an increasing number of devices, including a $100 unit made by Silicon Valley startup Roku Inc. Other partnerships enable Netflix to pump its video library to TVs through Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 video game consoles or recorders made by TiVo Inc. LG and Samsung Electronics Co. also sell Blu-ray DVD players compatible with the streaming service.
Piping movies directly to TV sets is the natural evolution of the video streaming service, said Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix.
"The TV symbolizes the ultimate destination," he said.
That idea -- shared by Sony Corp., which already streams feature films and TV shows directly to its Bravia televisions
-- is still in its early stages. Netflix's streaming service taps a library of 12,000 titles, while the company's DVD menu numbers more than 100,000 titles.
Hastings expects that gap will "definitely narrow" over time, but he noted that DVDs maintain an advantage over streaming, which is that "they are very profitable" for film studios.
Tim Alessi, director of product development for LG Electronics USA, said the broadband TVs will sell for roughly $200 to $300 more than a regular HDTV set.